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Jenna Brown 12/3/12

Final Refection The ways in which we view and perceive our world are altered by our life experience. I am no exception. This semester, I was forced to inspect my beliefs and ways of thinking because of my new experiences. I had to examine long held misconceptions and test my boundaries of comfort. Honors seminar allowed me a channel through which to funnel my ideas, and many of our assignments acted as catalysts for my introspection. Our first major assignment was to create an altered book that would present our worldview, and help define who we are. We created pages for political views, left/right brain strengths, gender identity, and other key aspects of our lives. In particular, I have done a lot of thinking this semester about religion and relationships. My favorite part of the altered book I created was a heart I had hanging in between my religion and my relationships page, symbolizing compassion. I was raised without church in a town where church was a staple for most of my friends. I struggled when my friends would ask me what denomination I was, or what church I went to, afraid to see their reactions if I was honest. If I had been asked to create my book a few years ago, there would have been more confusion on my religion page. I would not call myself a religious person, but I wouldn’t call myself an atheist either. I do not necessarily believe in a god, deities or judgment days, but I count myself as spiritual. I live each day by a sense of right and wrong, with morals and ethics to guide me. I believe in people, in humanity, and the good of which we are capable.

I see similarities in religions, and I have difficulty believing that any one group would “have it right”, while all others would be condemned for having lived by a different set of rules. I look for the good in each person I know, regardless of whether they call themselves a Christian, a Hindu, a Jew, or an atheist. I cannot identify fully with or commit to any religion, but I entertain a unifying theme, the golden rule. Treat others the way you would like to be treated, and for me that means with compassion. Compassion in relationships for me means showing those close to you that you love them. I make relationships with family a priority. That does not mean I call them every day and share all the details of school with them, but I would never want to drive a wedge between myself and my family in a fight or with distance. My little brother would never admit it, but he likes it when I hug him. Compassion can also mean putting others before me, listening when a friend just needs to talk, and giving my trust when it is earned. The second piece I chose to use in my portfolio was the “This I Believe” essay. We were asked to write about one defining principle or belief we have. My essay was brighter than most in my class because I chose to write about Pop rocks. Pop rocks, to me, are a reminder to appreciate the little things. I chose to include this essay in my portfolio simply because writing it made me happy. I do believe in little things, that smallest actions have the ability to brighten another’s day. Writing and brainstorming for my essay had me looking for symbolism and lessons in my day to day life, which was worthwhile if only because I had to think hard about what I believe. The third piece I chose to use in my portfolio was my response to “How to Tell a True War Story”, an excerpt from Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. We were asked to talk about how the story made us feel, what the story made us think about the business of

war, and how our thoughts may have changed about the war on terror. I read the entire book that this excerpt came from in my junior year of high school, so the story was not surprising to me but it was still sobering. We live in a society that would rather sweep the injustices and gruesome nature of war out of the public eye, because ignorance is easier than having to face an issue head on. I do not think that the government and news stations purposely keep the nature of war from us, the general population, because they think we might revolt; the nature of war is kept from us because we are comfortable not knowing. The story suggests that war is the true enemy to avoid, because neither side can come out of war better off than they were before. People will die, resources will be used, money will be spent, and all to because someone got angry over issues of diplomacy or belief. Reading the excerpt and looking at statistics for the cost of war is dismaying, but in some circumstances, I don’t know that there are alternatives. The war on terror is something that can never truly be over, because there will always be groups that oppose the United States. The fourth piece I picked was my sketch representation of Plato’s cave. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is meant to make the reader think about perceptions and reality, how your view of the world may be small and incomplete. Plato’s allegory tells of people chained in a cave, and all they ever see are shadows of other beings. One of these people is taken out of the cave and into the light, and he gets to view the world as it really is. His transition is slow but complete. College, leaving home, and growing up feels like coming out of a cave into the light. Reading and analyzing this piece made me think about what veils could be pulled over my eyes, and what fallacies I ascribe too because I’ve never been shown an alternative.

The last piece I picked from seminar was my reflection on Food, Inc. The documentary explored the inner workings of our food industry. It revealed how foods are genetically modified, how horribly livestock is treated, and what you are really eating when you buy from big companies. The documentary made me think more about what I eat, and question what I put in my body, but I didn’t feel a need to drastically change my diet. For many families a switch to all organic foods is impractical, because it would require time and money that might not be available. I know that my family will never be super conscious of food, unless we had some sort of catalyst. It would be amazing if our government would subsidize healthy foods, and create balance in the prices at the store. It would also be nice to entirely remove the influence of big companies on government regulation, but I don’t know how that would come about. Honors Seminar and the Honors Program have given me the tools necessary to question the world around me, and helped open my mind to different ways of thinking. I may not view the world in a different way, but I am more aware. I have been given opportunities to view issues through new perspectives I was originally worried about coming to campus and being surrounded by partiers and idle partners, so I appreciate how the Honors Program has given me a network of peers with similar goals to connect with. My transition to college has been smooth sailing, a hot air balloon ride. I have maintained a 4.0 GPA, made a group of friends, and in general have enjoyed myself. Campus has become my home, an axis about which my new life revolves. In the coming years here, I look forward to endless possibilities. For the first time I have enough freedom to do what I want, and anything can happen.